In hyper health-conscious New York City, a guy can’t just work out. He has to be preparing for the Ironman, surfing in the Rockaways, and learning to box with the man who trained Jake Gyllenhaal for his role in Southpaw. But all this obsessive working out can tax the body to the point where every muscle aches. Where it’s even an effort to sit down and get up and walk. Yet the need to keep at it and stay competitive is still there, so one can’t be sore.
“I burst cardio, and pretty heavy weight training,” says George Cheeks, head of late-night television at NBC, “and I have pain in my right knee and left elbow. Of course, I’ve been told to slow down, but I’m not prepared to do that.” He tried cryotherapy six months ago. “The pain completely went away,” says the 50-year-old who divides his time between L.A. and New York. “The added benefit is unbelievable energy, and it’s helped me sleep better too. I have found balance.”
Developed in Japan and popular throughout Europe, cryotherapy is a rapid deep freeze of the body that purports to improve sleep, increase metabolism, reduce inflammation, and burn up to 800 calories, all in less than three minutes. As cryotherapy center KryoLife opens a second location in downtown Manhattan this December, the three-minute treatment is gaining popularity as an efficient recovery method for those who don’t have time for the traditional method of a painful ice bath.
The therapy involves entering a minus 264-degree chamber of liquid nitrogen, your body temperature cools to as low as 32 degrees, but rapidly, keeping your core warm. Basically, the procedure tricks your body into hypothermia—so you can achieve its benefits without those pesky drawbacks of, say, frostbite or death. Usain Bolt used it to help cope with a back injury during the 2012 Olympics. Floyd Mayweather explored it in the weeks leading up to the big fight in May. And Daniel Craig added it to his regimen for getting his ripped Bond body in Spectre.
“We definitely get a lot of ‘A-types’—weekend warriors with adrenal burnout,” says Joanna Fryben, co-owner of KryoLife, which opened a smaller facility in 2012 on 57th Street. Adam Hochfelder, 43, managing director of a real-estate investment firm, first heard of cryotherapy from his friend ex-Giants punter Steve Weatherford. “Almost every top athlete is using this,” says Hochfelder. “I have two very athletic sons; one’s a football player, the other a competitive tennis player. The last thing I want is one of them saying ‘let’s go for a run’ and me answering ‘I can’t I’m sore.’”
Cryotherapy is not FDA-approved, and some in the medical community remain cautious about its efficacy until there is further research. But, as another regular client put it, “It’s a total high without the crash.” And possibly healthier. $90 a session; kryolifehealth.com.